Alcoholic drinks above 1.2% ABV are currently exempted from the general EU food law requirement to include ingredients and nutrition information on labels. In March 2017 the European Commission invited the EU alcohol industry to propose a self-regulatory framework for ingredient and nutrition labelling. The industry bodies have now published their collective proposals, comprising a joint-proposal for all relevant sectors (beer, cider, wine and spirits), plus a more detailed specification for each sector (e.g. this one for wine).
The key proposals are:
- nutrition information and details of ingredients to be provided to consumers off-label and/or on label
- information provided off-label to be easily accessible from the label itself, either by a web-link, a QR code, a bar code or through other direct means using smart technologies
- the individual sectors to use innovative tools and information systems to provide useful information to consumers
- food business operators responsible for the food information to decide how to display the information.
The proposals envisage that modification of labels will not begin before March 2021. The ball is now back in the Commission’s court to assess whether these proposals are acceptable. If not, then unless any issues can be resolved between the Commission, the Industry and interested Member States, a mandatory regulatory scheme will probably be imposed.